Online Citizen Science: A Systematic Review of Effects on Learning and Scientific Literacy

Aristeidou, Maria and Herodotou, Christothea (2020). Online Citizen Science: A Systematic Review of Effects on Learning and Scientific Literacy. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 5(1) pp. 1–12.



Participation in online citizen science is increasingly popular, yet studies that examine the impact on participants’ learning are limited. The aims of this paper are to identify the learning impact on volunteers who participate in online citizen science projects and to explore the methods used to study the impact. The ten empirical studies, examined in this systematic review, report learning impacts on citizens’ attitudes towards science, on their understanding of the nature of science, on topic-specific knowledge, on science knowledge, and on generic knowledge. These impacts were measured using self-reports, content analysis of contributed data and of forum posts, accuracy checks of contributed data, science and project-specific quizzes, and instruments for measuring scientific attitudes and beliefs. The findings highlight that certain technological affordances in online citizen science projects can cultivate citizens’ knowledge and skills, and they point to unexplored areas, including the lack of experimental and long-term studies, and studies in formal education settings.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 70067
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 2057-4991
  • Keywords
  • informal learning; learning outcomes; evaluation; data collection; online citizen science; volunteers
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Research Group
  • eSTEeM
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2020 The Authors
  • Depositing User
  • Maria Aristeidou